- Stacey Quick
It's not that scary of a word. Yet, within the fitness realm, every time I mention this secretive little noun to a client or friend, I witness a reaction similar to this:
But calories really aren't that big of a deal. In fact, they're easy to describe, easy to find, easy to count and thus, easy to manage.
What is a Calorie? Well, google it (I love that ‘google’ is a verb). Don't worry, I did it for you:
- A single Calorie is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 °C, often used to measure the energy value of foods.
So, basically, a Calorie (which can also be referred to as a large calorie, kcal, Cal, or food calorie) is heat energy. Energy! That's it! Calories are energy! I love exclamation marks!
We all need energy. Whether it's for walking, running, chewing, dancing, or picking up your favourite duck at the local pond, we need energy to do things. We need energy to do almost everything! Even to keep our bodies functioning as we sleep requires energy.
In fact, there is a little thing called Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the amount of Calories that you burn just by doing the things needed to keep your body alive. Things such as regulating body temperature, removing waste products, digestion, circulation, oh and breathing. If you’re curious on what your personal BMR is, you can get a good idea using this calculator.
There are factors to consider that do affect your BMR. Factors like age, gender, body fat percentage, and heredity.
My personal BMR is 1,875 calories. Thus, just to stay afloat on this lake called life, I need to consume just under 1,900 Calories per day. Obviously I need much more than that because I like to walk, run, chew, dance, play with ducks, and terrorise the gym like King Kong in NYC every single day.
Which brings us to another little important abbreviation, and that is TDEE. This stands for ‘Total Daily Energy Expenditure’. Yeah, you breath, you regulate body temperature (both counted towards your BMR), but combining that with your active lifestyle which includes running and King Konging (not a verb), you end up with the total amount of Calories needed to keep you going all day, your TDEE.
Your TDEE is all you need! By learning your TDEE amount you’ll have a good idea of how many Calories you need to cover everything that you do in one day.
How can you find your TDEE? Here’s a little table to ascertain an estimate of your TDEE. Though this wont be 100% accurate, it will give you a good idea. Choose the activity level that best describes you:
My personal BMR is 1,875
My activity level is 'Mustard active' (for obvious reasons)
1,875 x 1.725 = 3,234
Thus, to maintain my current weight of 85kg, I need to consume roughly 3,234 Calories per day.
Now that we know how many we need, how can we count them? They’re not the size of cornflakes, so it can seem a little intimidating locating them and calculating them. Luckily, most food products sold with a package larger than 100cm squared are required by their country’s law to display a nutrition information label. It is here that you can find the average amount of Calories in one serving of any product. It will look something like this:
If the product says that one serving contains ‘x’ amount of Calories, eat a ‘recommended serving’, or two… and then log the amount of Calories consumed in your bright new Calorie counting book. At the end of the day, add them up, compare them with your TDEE, and take it from there.
Question: But how can I gain/lose/maintain weight?
Answer: (I'm going to put this as simply as I can)
IF YOU CONSUME MORE CALORIES DAILY THAN YOUR PERSONAL TDEE, YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT.
IF YOU CONSUME FEWER CALORIES DAILY THAN YOUR PERSONAL TDEE, YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT.
IF YOU CONSUME ROUGHLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF CALORIES DAILY AS YOUR TDEE, YOU WILL MAINTAIN YOUR CURRENT WEIGHT.
This is known as Calories in (food) and Calories out (TDEE).
Looking to lose weight? Weigh yourself one morning before consuming anything. Then, try to eat 100 – 300 fewer Calories than normal per day for one week. When your week is complete, wake up and weigh yourself again
.Can you see results?
Yes? GREAT! Keep going!
No? Reduce your calories by a further 100 a day until those results begin to show... (I wouldn't ever recommend dropping below 1,200 Calories per day). Or, contact me here and I’ll sort you out with a plan that makes it all simple and splendidly easy for you!
Finally, I’ll give you a useful piece of information that has helped me out when Calorie counting.
If for whatever reason the amount of Calories is not started on a product, you can find a very close estimate by multiplying the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein) in the following fashion.
1g of Fat is equal to 9 Calories.
1g of Carbohydrate is equal to 4 Calories
1g of Protein is equal to 4 Calories
So, pop quiz! Roughly, how many Calories does the following product contain per serving?
Fat - 8g
Carbohydrate - 37g
Protein - 3g
Get that calculator!
Scroll up to the nutrition label above to see if you're roughly right!
No food label? No problem! Head over to myfitnesspal and search for your mysterious lableless food…(like an apple).
I hope this helps you a little more on the road to reaching your goals. You're a winner, you know it.
Be like Mustard.